This article was originally published on November 9, 2017 on our Business Insights page.
Skipping past the judgment of the scandal tied to Harvey Weinstein and the negative attention (and implications) for Mr. Weinstein, his family, his company, and his brand–let’s instead focus and look at the management lessons that other executives, business owners, managers, and employees can learn from this scandal. If we don’t learn from it we’re bound to repeat it.
Let’s look at a few things that we can learn and apply as it pertains to business and our leadership roles within it:
Anyone can start a company.
A small percentage of those who do, build those companies to be strong and profitable.
An even smaller percentage of those people seek out counsel and support to help them in the areas where they are weakest–both professionally and personally.
A tiny percentage of those people actually follow through with accepting the help and embedding the practices into their every day walk in life.
A fraction of those people succeed at consistently and passionately practicing what they preach and they place high standards on everyone that they have relationships with. They are self-accountable and expect others to hold them accountable, just as they strive to hold other people accountable. They are seen and known as honorable, respectful, and trustworthy, not only in their speech, but through their actions.
This is what makes an exceptional, dynamic leader.
There are numerous lessons that we can learn from the Weinstein scandal and others that have unfolded before and since then. Let’s focus on a few…
Do Not Surround Yourself With “Yes People”
We’ve heard this saying and we’ve said it ourselves, but truly what does this mean? Whether you’re just getting your start professionally, or you have been working hard in a 40-plus-year career, the fact stands that the worst group of people that you can have around you are “Yes People”.
These are the individuals who never challenge you, hold you accountable, call you out on your foolishness and reckless behavior. They turn a blind-eye when you do something unethical, immoral, and sometimes even illegal. They don’t want to rock-the-boat. They don’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings. They don’t want to be punished. They don’t want to lose their job or their relationship with you. These individuals refuse to tell the Emperor that he doesn’t have on a shred of clothes.
Believe it or not “Yes People” are just as toxic to your career, your business, and your personal life as people who blatantly set out to sabotage you. They feed your ego knowing that one day everything may come crashing down, and they will swear that their hands are “clean” because they didn’t do anything to cause your crash. But guess what? They didn’t do anything to prevent it.
It is imperative to your success (both professionally and personally) that you build a team of people who:
That is what we all desperately need. Don’t convince yourself that “it could never happen to me” because sadly, that is the exact same thing that others, accused and convicted, also used to say. Protect yourself!
CEOs and Other Leaders Need Training and Accountability
Call it coaching, call it training, call it whatever you want. At the beginning and end of each day the culture of an organization is formed on the values and beliefs of the founder or CEO of the company.
He or she creates and molds the internal work environment based on their views, values, and beliefs. How they see the world is how they will try to mold their employees to see the world. The things that are most important to them will slowly creep into the minds of those who work for them, and sooner than later many of those same things will become important to those who follow the leader. A cutthroat work environment was not created by the worker bees at the bottom of the corporate ladder. No, that was created by the senior leader and leaders at the top.
The amazing thing is that will all of the training and policies tied to ethics, diversity, harassment, whistleblowing, and the like—there is a small percentage of senior leaders within these organizations who actually actively participate in this same training, and align to the policies that have been implemented to dictate to the rest of the company. Some C-suite leaders will make the excuse that they are “too busy” to take part in the training sessions. Really? As though their workforce has plenty of time on their hands to stop serving your customers so they can go through that same training. We make time for what’s most important to us.
So it should not surprise us when the leaders who govern organizations, or serve in high offices fail miserably at complying to the same policies and laws that govern the people that they lead.
Imagine if politicians had to actually invest the time in attending mandatory annual training on ethics, diversity, harassment, etc.
Imagine if your CEO had mandatory training that he or she must take part in every year.
Top leaders in the public and private sector are successful for many reasons, one being, their ability to zoom in on what’s most important and delegate the rest. Unfortunately, they fail to realize the stupidity of ignoring or delegating valuable training on the very things that can land them in jail, prison, and/or facing huge financial sanctions.
You cannot risk leading with the mindset of “do as I say not as I do“. We see how that works with children, and let’s stop kidding ourselves, adults are nothing but oversized kids still trying to find a way to bend or break the rules.
For those of you who have already started your own business or built a strong brand, and for those of you who aspire to, don’t wait until you’re the Big Boss to get prepared. By then your mind may already be tainted and you may think that you already know all that you need to know, and “whatever I don’t know my assistant can handle“.
Entities Equipped With Knowledge and Resources
The biggest issue within the entertainment industry is that there is no governing body to hold businesses, executives, and employees in check. They delegate that to the respective State Labor Departments, but interesting enough, if an actor or singer is not actually designated as an “employee” then what are the steps for filing a complaint? That is why those who are violated are forced to go straight to lawyers, and for that they are publicly shamed for “being in it for the money”, but what are their options?
There are of course unions and associations for workers in this and other industries, but they are limited in the scope and reach. Nothing has been put into place to actually protect and fight for the actors, directors, singers, musicians, writers, and producers who face harassment and assaults from others within their respective industry.
If you are a lawyer or work for one you can go to the Bar Association with your claim against another lawyer. The Association will not only investigate the claims but will present these claims to the District Attorney’s Office, and also move forward on disbarment proceedings against the perpetrator.
There are no entities in place empowered to do this within the music, TV, and film industries.
It is no longer good enough to turn a blind eye. It is no longer acceptable to say, “I saw this coming” yet you did nothing to prevent it.
All organizations no matter how big or how small need to be held accountable. There are internal and external stakeholders who are impacted by the decisions made by the leaders of these organizations.
If right now you are a “team of one”, consider how your views, beliefs, and values will shape your team as it grows from one to two or more. How will you positively or negatively impact the lives of others based on your biases, habits, and actions? Who can you trust to join your accountability board that will save you from yourself?
If you have a team of more than one person then you need to look at yourself and be honest, what culture have you formed and reinforced within your team and organization? Would you want the things that you said, say, do and did to others–professionally and personally, published on social media and on the front cover of every magazine and newspaper?
We all must self-reflect and hold ourselves accountable for what we do and say, not just publicly, but in private. With social media being the major driver of our communication, it is amazing how much of our public and private lives have blended–how much of our personal and professional have intertwined. Can you really risk it?
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